Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ramapo River Basin’s Susceptibility to Contamination

By Joseph Farley

The Ramapo River Basin, vitally important to the area’s drinking water supply, faces constant threats from a variety of sources. The basin’s sand and gravel aquifers are especially susceptible to contamination.

Volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and other hazardous substances have contaminated the river. Besides industrial pollution, a source of much contamination came from the Ramapo Valley Landfill. The biggest problem was the landfill’s proximity to the Spring Valley Water Company’s (now United Water) well field.

This posed major problems and similar events are likely to happen unless the area is better monitored. The village of Suffern’s wells suffered from serious contamination problems due to industrial contamination. Water was restricted for days as crews attempted to rid the water supply of methyl chloroform.

The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that there are no economically feasible alternative sources for water, so protection and surveillance of the Ramapo River Basin is of the upmost importance.

There needs to be restricted access to vulnerable areas, as well as increased vigilance to potential outside risks. For example, if a ecoterrorist contaminated the supply it could cut into a large part of New Jersey and New York’s water supply. Our government doesn’t really seem to brace for domestic attacks such as this, but these could have devastating effects. Take for instance the coal chemicals leak in West Virginia, and imagine there was malicious intent behind the plume of pollution and not just greed and neglect. I think the outcome would be much more drastic.

The Ramapo River Basin is extremely important to the area. It is a vital part of the ecology and should be protected as such.

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